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Pops Foster

Background information
Birth name George Murphy Foster
Born May 19, 1892
Origin United States Ascension Parish, Louisiana, USA
Died October 29, 1969 (aged 77)
Genres Jazz
Occupations Bassist, Tubist, Trumpeter
Instruments String bass, Tuba, Trumpet
Associated acts King Oliver, Kid Ory

George Murphy "Pops" Foster (May 19, 1892 - October 29, 1969) was a jazz musician best known for his vigorous playing of the string bass. He also played the tuba and trumpet professionally.

Foster was born to Charley and Annie Foster on a plantation near McCall in Ascension Parish near Baton Rouge in south Louisiana. His family moved to New Orleans when he was about ten years of age. His older brother, Willard Foster, began playing banjo and guitar; George started out on a cello then switched to string bass. Foster married twice: to Bertha Foster in 1912 and Alma Foster in 1936.

Pops Foster was playing professionally by 1907 and worked with Jack Carey, Kid Ory, Armand Piron, King Oliver and other prominent hot bands of the era.

In 1921 he moved to St. Louis to play with the Charlie Creath and Dewey Jackson bands, in which he would be active for much of the decade. He also joined Ory in Los Angeles. He acquired the nickname "Pops" because he was far older than any of the other players in the band.

In 1929 Foster moved to New York City, where he played with the bands of Luis Russell and Louis Armstrong through 1940. He giged with various New York-based bands through the 1940s, including those of Sidney Bechet, Art Hodes, and regular broadcasts on the national This Is Jazz radio program.

In the late 1940s he began touring more widely and played in many countries in Europe, especially in France, and throughout the United States including returns to New Orleans and California.

In 1952, Foster toured Europe with Jimmy Archey's Band. He played regularly at Central Plaza in New York and briefly in New Orleans with Papa Celestin in 1954.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he played with Earl Hines' Small Band. In 1966, he toured Europe with the New Orleans All-Stars but remained based in San Francisco, where he died.

The Autobiography of Pops Foster was published in 1971, with a new edition in 2005 ISBN 0-87930-831-1 (alk. paper). The book is not known for great accuracy when some anecdotes are compared to other sources.


  • George Murphy 'Pops' Foster", A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography (Vol. 1 (1988), p. 315)
  • John Chilton, Who's Who of Jazz: Storyville to Swing Street (1972)

External links

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